We spent a total of 5 nights in Beijing in September, including 3 nights at the Schonbrunn hotel.
This hotel was part of our tour, so we didn't have any choice. The hotel common areas are nice and new, and certainly the exterior architecture is quite nice. The staff did their best to help, however none of the staff except the Manager spoke English well. We were given a room facing the road, and as other posts have suggested those rooms are noisy, although I find road noise the easiest to live with. The room we had was actually quite large, and had all the usual amenities. However the real issue with the room, and hallways, was the smell of cigarette smoke in all the carpets et al. I am not a anti-smoker; for me, a smoking floor should always be provided, but we were on a NON SMOKING FLOOR! And the rooms (all three that I was shown) all had ashtrays?!? Apparently, it's only non-smoking room until you need/ask to smoke, and then it's a smoking room. Bizarre.
As mentioned, the Manager spoke fluent English, and to the hotel's credit, they offered me 3 other rooms, and likely would have continued to offer me rooms, but the fact remained that they all had a smokey odor, so why move. All the staff were helpful and truly tried to accommodate me, but the hotel has a policy problem, not a staff problem.
Amenities were substandard for a hotel that wants to bill itself as a 4-5 star. There was only one restaurant + the buffet for the tour groups. The buffet was ok, in that the selection was good, but a fair assortment of the western dishes were cool/cold. The restaurant is a true Chinese restaurant - be prepared for all manner of dishes, served in true Chinese style with all the parts of the animal on the plate. We stuck to chicken (head and feet included), and while the better half struggled with this, I will say that the food was tasty, if somewhat overpriced.
There was (as of October 2012) no wifi in the rooms, and the wifi reception in the lobby was poor/nonexistent. I used the laundry services, and the clothes were clean, although with an odd smell. Not bad, just odd. They didn't deliver my clothes to the room on time (we were leaving early), but again, the staff was excellent, in that when I called to find the clothes, they were brought to my room within 10 minutes.
The location of the hotel is really not great (it is on the 4th ring road), as it relates to the major attractions. Yes, you can get to the subway, but don't plan on walking there. The hotel is actually closer to the Summer Palace than it is to the Forbidden City or other central attractions.
A tip for those who would like an alternative to the hotel restaurants and a bit of truly cheap shopping, there is a mall about 10 minutes walk up the road, and it includes what I will describe as China's version of Walmart (turn left when you leave the hotel). It has lots of well priced items, and tons of selection, including food. We bought lots of yoghurts and granola type cereals for our own breakfast. There are other stores there as well, and it certainly seemed cheaper than downtown.
As mentioned, we spent 3 nights here and 2 nights at the Beijing Marriott City Wall. Before you say "ah, but the Marriott must be 3 times the price", check the Marriott website. Other reviews of this hotel suggest roughly $CAD88 - I just looked at the Marriott website and a room can be had for $125CAD. There are lots of hotels closer to the major downtown attractions, and (true) walking distance from the subway for access to the Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven etc.
In summary, my review title is purposefully chosen - I don't think it would take much to get this hotel up from a 2 (or 3) star to a proper 4 star. Get rid of all the stale, smelly odor causing carpets and furniture, enforce smoking & non-smoking floors, add another restaurant that caters to western style Chinese food, and this place really would be nice. It is a new hotel, the rooms are spacious and comfortable, the staff is trying hard, and the facade is truly splendid.
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